Legend Forged In Red Sonja/Tarzan
Mar 08, 2018
by Vince Brusio
We’ve all played games like fantasy football, or seen imaginary superhero knockdowns play out on video games, and the reason for our fascination is simple: it’s just so freakin’ cool!!! Who doesn’t like to see sparks fly? Especially when those sparks fly from an untested forging of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs? Get ready to see the She-Devil with a Sword meet the Lord of the Jungle in Red Sonja/ Tarzan #1 (MAR181393) from Dynamite Entertainment, and check out what Gail Simone has to say about the new series in our PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview.
Vince Brusio: You’ve written Red Sonja before, but taking on Tarzan is something new for you. So how did you get inside the mind of the character? What helped you to find his voice?
Gail Simone: That’s an interesting question, because Tarzan was actually the first adventure hero I followed in prose. I was just a little kid, I’d been learning about comics by picking them up at garage sales. And I saw a set of books that had covers by the great Neal Adams…it was Tarzan. And I just ate those books up like the world was ending. I followed that by buying every Edgar Rice Burroughs book I could find. So Tarzan’s been there, in my head, since I was barely old enough to read.
Beyond that, the thing that has helped me is, I feel like I already have a rock solid idea of who Tarzan is, because my Tarzan is very deliberately based on my favorite version of the character, by my all-time favorite comic artist, Joe Kubert. I don’t believe anyone ever got the mix of civility and savagery in the Jungle Lord like Kubert And every panel he’s in in this book, is a bit of a tribute to him.
I finally got to meet the man just a few months before he passed, and all I could sputter out to him was how much his Tarzan stories had meant to me.
Vince Brusio: What was the catalyst for writing such a story, featuring the She-Devil and the Lord of the Jungle? What planted the seed? Was this a team-up you’ve long thought about, or did someone dare you to climb up the tallest tree?
Gail Simone: A lot of it is simply that I have never outgrown the idea of having my Transformers fight my GI Joe action figures. I write comics for a living, but I do not seem to be able to shed my delight at crossovers, and weird characters mixing in the same story. It’s just a thing I love doing.
And absolutely, part of it is the challenge. If you can make Conan and Wonder Woman, not just fit, but make sense, make them compelling…I love doing that. And this is really the two greatest pulp adventure worlds smashing together. There’s never been a mini-series solely about a character from Robert E. Howard’s worlds crashing into one from Edgar Rice Burroughs. I can’t pass that kind of thing by. It’s a story a lot of people who don’t even read comics can enjoy, and that’s very exciting for me.
If you’d told the little farm girl reading those books and comics that she would grow up to have them face off in the same story, I’m sure I would have laughed at the impossibility of it all.
Vince Brusio: The egos of these two heroes: wow. Talk about an overbearing force meeting an immovable object. Sergio Davila’s cover captures what this clash of titans looks like when no quarter is given. Everyone, of course, wants to see what it looks like when these two square off. So how did you approach writing a conflict between the two? How many rehearsals did you mentally stage in your head before the final draft was written?
Gail Simone: This is the fun of it, for me. Because we do start off with Lord Greystoke, who seems to manage to be a lordly English gentleman. But the guy who shows up to face Sonja, he’s no polite guy in a suit.
It’s Tarzan, as savage as you will ever see him. Savage enough that even the She-Devil is given pause. That first big meeting is one of the funnest things in a book full of huge entertainment. There’s a reason why he’s the LORD of the Jungle.
Vince Brusio: Tell us about Eson Duul. The solicitation describes him as an “evil man,” but there are so many shades of that color it’s hard for us to paint a picture without any sneak peek given in the catalog. What do we see when this “evil man” steps out of the shadows?
Gail Simone: Absolutely. For the villain of this piece, I wanted someone who had a bit of ERB and a bit of REH. Both were capable of some terrific villains, characters who were almost a force of nature. And so I wanted a villain who wasn’t merely misguided, not simply a conflicted product of the times.
Eson Duul is evil. Black-hearted. Lacking compassion or empathy completely. When he dominates, he destroys. When he hunts, he hunts to extinction. And he’s a match for either Sonja or Tarzan, which is really pretty rare in either of their histories. And he’s taken something from each of them that they can’t afford to lose. So it’s a hunter-becomes-the-hunted story, which is pretty much my favorite thing ever.
Vince Brusio: If you could seize on a particular scene that would act as a good movie trailer for this book, what would readers see play out on the big screen as they munch on their popcorn? The faces of these two legends: what do they say? What’s the volume of the music score? Does the scene foreshadow darkness to fall?
Gail Simone: In the first issue, Tarzan comes to the aid of a friend, and ends up seeing man’s inhumanity on bright display. It’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever written, and you learn that even though he’s in a proper suit and tie, the jungle is still in him.
Sonja, I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a scene at the end of book one that shows that nothing truly fazes her, nothing stops her, even situations that would drive lesser beings mad.
I’m guessing the soundtrack is up high enough that the bass line makes the trees rattle.
It’s a chase story, a thriller, a pulp dream-come-true. This is the Tarzan that made me love pulp fiction and the Red Sonja that made me love sword and sorcery. Facing off against the worst, most powerful man on Earth.
That’s what I got into comics to write, I just didn’t know it yet.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.